Ask Me Anything: Things You Need to Know about Async Work with Vivian Gomes

Meghan
Meghan ✭✭✭
edited November 2022 in Collaboration & Facilitation

@Vivian is this week's AMA guest! As the Chief Design Officer at HFR&D and someone who has lived and worked in many cities around the world, his experience is one we value; read on as Vivian shares the ups and downs of asynchronous work and what inspires him to do this work!

Favorite or last project in MURAL:

Human Centered Design Training 

Favorite remote or async work tools?

MS Teams, Zoom, and MURAL 😎

If you could ask the MURAL Community members any question, what would it be? How do you address time out of MURAL members from a MURAL room. There’s no way of knowing who’s bumped off or has no more access, unless there's a way we haven't figured out.

What’s currently inspiring you?

Digital communities and opportunities to help teams and people beyond borders from my desk.

In a world that is transitioning to asynchronous communication, what do you feel are the best ways to respect someone’s time?

It is important to prepare in advance, plan, communicate effectively, check timezones in advance, share time zone converters, as people still are not aware of time differences, share pre -work material, be courteous about response time delays and above all it’s very important to be patient as digital onboarding is at such a scale that it would have overwhelmed Noah (yes that same Ark builder)

What’s the latest async work project you’ve done that you’re proud of?

There are two: 1) training teams located in over 10+ different cities in India and 2) An experience makeover of a few digital properties for a large Media corporation in another continent. These are ongoing projects.

As someone who has worked around the world, what are challenges to async work you see regularly in live time? How would you solve them?

One of the biggest challenges is getting everyone ready and prepared well in advance for their online sessions. Anyone who joins-in during the live-synch without orientation to basic digital habits, preparedness with tools, such as simple things like using a mouse, makes it harder for them to contribute much to teamwork. Due to this, reviews take longer than planned and they face issues when work gets into async mode, as there’s no-one in real time for them to work with. This leads to incorrect assumptions, rework (sometimes a lot of it). The other technical issue is the SaaS platforms being used when they don't sync up offline information for various reasons, which affects session productivity.

What I/we do as a team is, everyone spends a fair amount of time to ensure the async team has basic proficiency about the tools we use to collaborate, keeping the tools to a bare minimum while collaborating in real time, do a couple of pilot sessions, fix any major snags and share a “to do list” about a week or more in advance to help everyone onboard happily and excited (those last two are important factors).

Every program has a couple of hours of fun onboarding and familiarization with people, process and tools. All templates are built and finalized in advance for every session and facilitators sync ahead of time and after ‘live time’ to ensure there’s a smooth flow of activities. Any “home work” has a buddy system where someone does a check-in or is available just in case of any difficulties navigating the systems and tools or help in case of any technical concerns. 

That's good to know! Any tips for how to mind the (timezone) gap?

We share two ways of bridging this 1) Have everyone preset the time zones on the individual smartphones under “world time” 2) use worldtimebuddy app 3) as a bonus the popular chat app “WhatsApp” is used for pure time sync / availability confirmation. 


Vivian's post is Part Two in a series on Asynchronous Work by MURAL! Interested in learning more tools and tips for working in an async world? Read on below!

Part One: Acing async work with @tammybjelland

MURAL's Guide to Asynchronous Communication

Template: The Async Meeting Calculator